New Distribution System Holds Up CNN Newsource Stories

By Alex Weprin 

TVNewsCheck has an interesting story regarding CNN Newsource, the cable network’s affiliate video service.

In a nutshell, many of CNN’s local affiliates, which typically run a number of CNN Newsource reports a week, have had to cut back dramatically. The culprit is a recent change in the video distribution system used by CNN.

Over the past several months, CNN has replaced its Pathfire distribution system with Bitcentral’s Oasis, a file-based system that many stations — primarily in small and mid-size markets — are not yet fully equipped to handle…

Station engineers say their problems are not necessarily with Oasis as a product, but rather with CNN’s rolling out the system without giving affiliates sufficient time to gear up and integrate it with other newsroom systems.

Update: CNN says it is addressing the issue, more after the jump.

The technology that allows television news to happen is rarely on top of mind of many TV news executives, let alone viewers, so the problems are not surprising.

Still, it could end up being a serious issue for CNN’s affiliate business, as TVNewsCheck reports:

At Belo, Wayne Kube, director of technology, says it will be two or three years before all the group’s 15 news-producing stations are overhauled to handle file-based content and easily manage the CNN stories delivered via Oasis.

Right now, only about half of them can, he says, and those that can’t are turning to other news sources.

“They are using the [CNN] content, quite frankly, not as much,” he says. “Someone has to sit there and do the steps so they have to think, is it really worth getting that story.”

Update: CNN senior VP Jack Womack addressed the problem in a memo to staff. Womack says that the migration to Oasis has gone “very well,” adding:

We have not second guessed our decision to go to an IP based delivery system. It was critical to deliver file formats that meet multiplatform and our affiliates emerging HD needs. As most of you know the rest of the industry is clearly going in this direction and all material will soon be received in the same way.